Sunday, June 11, 2023

New Sounds on an Old Instrument

by Andrea Wallick, cellist 

and Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins

Why does that cello sound like a seagull? How are the sounds I'm hearing coming out of string instruments? It sounds like percussion and overtones. 

If you've ever asked these questions after watching a string performance, the performers were most likely playing their instruments using extended techniques

Watch this George Crumb piece being performed to get an idea of what extended techniques are: 

Ensemble intercontemporain

Monday, June 5, 2023

20 Hours To Montréal & the Philip Glass Ensemble- The 2023 Version of Bach's Walk

Story in Four Parts 

by Andrea Wallick, Cellist at Fein Violins

Part 1: Conceptualization 

I was in the thick of finals, having performances every night, working on my massive paper about Einstein on the Beach, and I randomly had the urge to check out what the Philip Glass Ensemble is doing now. There I saw it... the list of performances with one happening on May 24th in Montréal, Canada. With a quick glance at their performance history over the past three years or so, I realized that if I wanted to ever see them live anytime soon, it would have to be at the May 24th Montréal concert. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

The Time to Get Your Instrument Ready For Summer Fun Is Now!

Off to Music Camp?

 Playing Outside: Tips to Summer-ize Your Stringed Instrument

By Diane Houser, Office Manager at Fein Violins, professional violinist & violist 

and Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins

Summer is right around the corner in the Upper Midwest, and if you have plans to play outside over the next few months, now's the time to get your instrument ready for the heat and humidity.

Playing outdoors is fun! Treat your instrument well! 

Stringed instruments are made of wood, a material that expands when it absorbs moisture, and contracts when it dries. To make matters even more complicated, there are two different types of wood used to make violins, violas, and cellos - Spruce for the top and Maple for the back and sides. These two woods expand and contract at different rates, so the best advice is to try to avoid extremes in temperature and humidity

Monday, May 22, 2023

These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Strings- Part IV, Cello

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins
with Kevin Berdine And Andrea Wallick

As we have shared in a previous blog post, "These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Strings-Part III, Cello" Larsen strings continue to be a favorite amongst students, teachers, and cellists in our shop. 

Larsen's standard strings continue to be the strongest contender for most cellos and cellists, but our shop cellists have enjoyed each new string produced by Larsen. When Larsen introduced the Magnacore strings, we were all quite excited to try them out. They did not disappoint! We absolutely loved the warmth that Magnacores produced while maintaining the same playability and projection we have come to expect from Larsen. 

Sunday, May 7, 2023

What's THE BEST Instrument Sound?

By Andrea Wallick, cellist and Andy Fein, violin maker at Fein Violins (

Have you ever heard an instrument's sound described with physical adjectives such as "dark", "bright", "rough", or "thin"? Sound doesn't produce light, and it's not a physical object, so what do these words actually mean? And more importantly, what kind of words describe a good instrument's sound? 

Rachel Barton Pine discusses the differences between Stradivaris and Guaneri del Gesus

These terms do not come out of nowhere. There are actually subtle differences in the sound composition that make terms like these universal! If two people play different violins with different bows at different volumes, obviously they will sound different. But what if the same person plays two violins with the same bow at the same volume with the same articulation? Will they still sound different? Yes, because of the instrument's timbre.